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The Power of Song

There are so many things I want my children to learn – how to study and do well in school; how to cook, clean, and help run a household; how to budget their money; how to be honest, responsible and hard-working; how to care for other people, and on and on and on (I doubt the list has an end). As a mother and follower of Christ, however, my intentions and hopes for them are more focused. One of my greatest desires is that my children study and memorize the Word of God.

joshua, david and sarah baking

Joshua and his little cooking assistants, David and Sarah, tackle a big baking project in 2004.

posing for a picture

Notice Sarah’s “picture posing smile.”


Give a child a cookie and they’ll be hungry in an hour. Give a child a SPATULA and they’ll never lack for cookies. Ancient Duckabush proverb.

Years ago my mother gave us a set of Steve Green’s Hide Em In Your Heart scripture cds. I immediately copied them onto cassette tapes so we could play them in the van. This was before cars routinely came with cd players. Oh wait, we STILL don’t have a cd player in the van. Let’s not go there. How long since we abandoned the 8 track and upgraded to cassette? We can’t rush right to cds and mp3s. These shifts in technology take time and adjustment.

hide em in your heart

There are two Hide Em’ In Your Heart volumes, both of which have been made into DVD’s as well. We loved these cds and played them constantly in the house and car. To this day, if you begin a song or verse from those two cds, my older children can belt out the finish.

Unfortunately Steve Green only made two albums and eventually a person does grow weary of listening to the same music over and over. I never did understand why he didn’t continue with the series – ran out of verses, lost his voice, got in copyright issues with the source of his songs??

sarah does some school

Wow, it’s 2003 and Sarah is already doing First Grade Math! She’s obviously a child progeny (as Calvin would say).

sarah 2003

I’m sure Daniel really appreciated Sarah helping him with his math.

Last year I stumbled across some amazing Bible memory cds (probably heard about them on the SHS loop, the source of treasures too many to enumerate). I listened to sample songs on and was so taken with them that I immediately bought all four of the cds (I never was one for just window shopping). These Family Worship cd’s, Seeds of Purpose, Seeds of Faith, Seeds of Courage, and Seeds of Praise are truly outstanding. I highly recommend them. If you don’t have young children, buy them for your friends or grandchildren. Find the Christian Director at your church and give him/her a set. Drop hints with relatives who buy for your children. Put them on your Amazon gift list. Borrow a friend’s child so you have an excuse to listen to the music yourself.

The songs are energetic, fun, and worshipful. The lyrics come from God’s true Word. The music varies from lively to moving but best of all it sounds like real ‘praise music,’ not kids music, but it’s praise music that is solely scripture. How powerful is that? The songs are performed by grownups (with occasional help given by children) and have a contemporary feel to them. On the CBD page, the cds come with this comment:

WARNING: This package contains songs that may result in the listener unintentionally MEMORIZING SCRIPTURE. Furthermore, those who learn these words may find themselves inexplicable recalling and/or applying them to real-life situations, as the Holy Spirit leads. USE WITH CAUTION.

samuel, daniel and david

Summer 2006 – Samuel gets a good grip on Daniel while David smiles on. These boys obviously need some good Bible music!

More and more I find myself playing the Seeds Praise Mix (as it’s called on my computer) on days when we have busy (i.e. stressful) mornings. On Sundays, in particular, everyone is rushed and a bit harried. It’s difficult (especially when both parents are NIGHT OWLS) getting a large family fed, dressed and out the door in time for Sunday school. Being on time is NOT something I do well as my children will gladly tell you.

On such mornings, I put on the Seeds Mix. With the music blasting and the Word of God filling the house, a new spirit of cheer and praise fills our hearts. It is remarkable how something so small can evoke such a dramatic change.


Rebecca favors classical music but might let Rachel and Sarah talk her into some songs from Seeds of Faith.

Listen to the clips and see if you agree. I separated out the links so you can reach each album easily. We’ve been listening to the collection quite a bit over the past two days and the children are rapidly picking favorites. This does lead to a bit of conflict when one child sneaks up to change the song while another child’s song is still playing. Is there something a bit odd about children fighting over what Bible song to listen to? Ah, these rascals will find something to fight over if it kills them (or is that the point?) Let’s see if they can resist the power of God’s Word reflected in these songs (“Do Everything in Love” comes to mind).

Note: these are NOT hymns. My children love hymns (Daniel and Joshua in particular) but they do NOT enjoy cds of children’s choirs performing hymns. I haven’t been able to find a decent collection of hymns aimed more for children. Still looking. If you know of a treasure I’m missing, please pass the info along!

As the Psalmist wrote:

Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. Psalm 33:2-4


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P365 – Day 59 (The Princess Bride)

How many times did you listen to yesterday’s clip of Inigo speaking to Westley? Once? Twice? Didn’t listen at all – really, you’re busy and don’t have time for random clicking on misc. blogs. “How did I get here anyway?” is the question you’re asking. That and “What is a Duckabush??”

In our house, I think we played the same sound bite over 10 times. The older two listened to it twice while they were reading the blog. I laughed and played it two or three times myself. Tim listened to it this morning. Daniel came by, wondering what I was doing, and made me play it. David heard the tail end and wanted to hear it himself. That might be closer to 15 times.

At lunch I had an overwhelming and totally surprising desire to watch The Princess Bride (hope that didn’t ruin the Obscure Movie Quote from the end of yesterday’s blog). Speaking of which, anyone recognize the other quotes?

I have to confess that we occasionally watch bits and pieces of movies during lunch time. Just one of those perks of homeschooling. Often they are educational films (amazing what you can define as “educational” if you put your mind to it). The 3.5 hours of Shackelton’s Stowaway lasted us a whole week of lunches (and a few dinners). We’ve watched animal films, nature and geography studies, and all sorts of science movies. It goes without saying, of course, that Civil War films show up on a regular basis. The younger set, however, have a fairly low tolerance for documentaries. Joshua usually grabs the Civil War library movies and heads out to the garage to “preview” them for me. I’m training him well – he’s already working on this week’s Civil War co-op agenda. My evil plan is working!

Today, however, we did not attempt to disguise our movie viewing under lofty scholastic labels. We skipped highbrow and went straight to comedy, adventure, romance and fairy tale all wrapped up in one delicious movie, The Princess Bride.

Six Things You Can Learn in The Princess Bride movie:

1) Vocabulary words like ‘inconceivable’
2) A little history of the countries Florin and Guilder
3) The definition of R.O.U.S.
4) An exposition on the phrase, “As You Wish”
5) The truth behind the Dread Pirates Roberts’ identity
6) The origin of Iocane Powder

And many more.

The Princess Bride is a pivotal movie in The Life of Tim and Kathy. The children know the story but haven’t really invested the time like Tim and I have. The film came out before we met but is probably one of our first ‘couple movies’ where lines are quoted and scenes watched over and over again.

I know, other people bond over adventures (real ones, not just the kind they watch on the big screen), common interests (hey, the fate of Buttercup and Westley was very important to us), or perhaps spiritual and intellectual pursuits. Not us. We relate through movie quotes. Sad but true.

I first saw The Princess Bride at the ‘cheapie theater’ when I was home from college one summer. Do they still even have ‘cheapie theaters’ anymore? I think the price was $1.50 or something outrageous like that. Sure you had to wait in line (if the movie was popular) and the floor was sticky but the price couldn’t be beat. I went with my parents and my best friend and her boyfriend. I can’t remember if my brothers joined us – probably, we all spent most of the summer together. My folks were rather wary of the movie, “Just what is this about?” was the question of the hour. As I recall, Jodi’s boyfriend had already seen it and SWORE we would love it (he didn’t actually swear, you understand, after all, my dad is a pastor).

We went in skeptics and came out devotees.

I asked Tim if he remembered where he first saw The Princess Bride (he really should be writing this blog but he had a killer day at work and spent the evening with the darling 5th and 6th grade boys in his youth group. I am not Tim but I will try my best to do the movie justice). With the question, a dreamy gaze came over his eyes (the darling 5th and 6th grade boys awaiting his arrival at church became but a distant thought).

“Ah, yes. I was visiting my brother in Germany. I was passing through to do laundry.”

If I had them I would insert scenic photo of Tim’s travels through Europe the summer BEFORE he met me. Hasn’t been back since. Rats. I think I missed my chance to bum around Europe with him, backpacks loaded. I think I’m really too old to “bum around” anyway. Maybe we’ll make it to Norway before the cousins move.

“This is my story, remember Kathy?” The musing, dreamy expression has been replaced by an indignant look, directed at me.

“Where was I? Oh yes, doing laundry in Germany. Mark and Liz had a copy of The Princess Bride and I settled in to watch it between loads. Gotta pass the time somehow.”

Another enthusiast was born. Tim says he saw it 3 or 4 times that week alone.

Cue forward to the next summer. Tim and I have now met and he’s in another scenic location doing laundry. Okay, I just threw the laundry part in to see if you were paying attention. He was working at a camp in beautiful Colorado. While at Spring Canyon, Tim met up with another Princess Bride fanatic. The two of them took to quoting the famous scene between Westley and Vizzini. In quote dramatic fashion, they could quote the entire passage from “And now it is down to you and it is down to me.” all the way to Vizzini’s final laugh (complete with his dramatic death fall – sorry for the spoiler but the movie debuted in 1987). I was privileged to see these talented thespians perform when I went out to visit.

They repeated the scene at least once a day. I wonder if they could still do it now? We’ll have to record Joshua and Tim doing the scene and post it online. A project for the weekend.

Mind you, the real treasure in The Princess Bride lies in the book. The movie is wonderful, a classic, but the book is a true jewel. Author William Goldman presents the novel as an abridgment of an older version by “S. Morgenstern”. The book, in fact, is entirely Goldman’s work. Morgenstern and the “original version” are fictional and used as a literary device. All of which brings us to the “Reunion Scene.” From Wikipedia

In the novel’s commentary, Goldman claims that he has added nothing to the “original” Morgenstern text. However, he says that he did write one original scene, a loving reunion between Buttercup and Westley, but claims that his publisher objected to this addition. He invites any reader who wants to read the Reunion Scene to write to the publisher (formerly Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; now Random House.)

I was one of those people! I wrote to the publisher and requested the letter. I completely and totally believed Goldman’s story (wasn’t totally sure about Florin and Guilder but hey, I’ve already explained that history was one of my weakest subjects). I received a letter in return for my appeal. Instead of the extra scene, however, the letter detailed the legal problems that Goldman and his publishers encountered with the Morgenstern estate and its lawyer, Kermit Shog. The letter was too long to include in the blog (after all, I do my best to keep these blogs tight and concise) but you can read it here.

The movie remains very faithful to the book and captures the whimsy and delight of the story full of creative characters, high adventures, and true love. It’s hard to choose which one, novel or film, I enjoy more. What’s your vote?

With lunch behind us and an afternoon of reading ahead of us, I went to the garage and grabbed one of our multiple copies of The Princess Bride and determined to sneak in a chapter two today. I saved it until the very end. We worked hard – we did our Proverbs devotional reading, laughed over a book about a Chinese emperor (pointing out all the Proverbs we found to be true in the book), studied some of an illustrated book on the country of China, and read our two Sonlight novels (both set in China).

When all of that was completed, I picked up The Princess Bride and set about reading. I had to edit the intro a bit as it was long and a bit inappropriate for my audience (do I really need to read about Goldman’s interactions with a Hollywood starlet, even if the whole incident is rather harmless and completely fabricated?). Joshua loved the book. He “got” the humor and excessive use of parenthesis (probably because he reads my blogs which tend to lend this way as well, ahem) and had no trouble following the story (from unwieldy introduction to rather slow start about Buttercup).

Here he TRIES to keep from laughing.

not laughing
laughing 1

laughing 2

laughing 3

giving in to laughter

Rachel struggled a bit more but enjoyed the story. At one point Daniel gave up and went off to get his math. He returned, lesson in hand, and worked while listening to the story. He raised wide eyes when we came to the description of Prince Humperdink’s Zoo of Death.

daniel and rachel

Poor David and Sarah, they waited patiently for us to finish reading. With all of school and then the extra chapters from The Princess Bride, they suffered from serious neglect.

david and sarah

Look how they suffer!

Tim came down just as I was losing my voice and struggling to keep reading (three hours of reading aloud does that to a girl). He immediately jumped in and finished the chapter for me. Not content to just read a wee little bit, he went on to read another whole chapter. As he started to read the third one, I realized if I didn’t get up and start cooking it would be cold cereal for dinner. Tim and the kids followed me into the kitchen and continued reading.

tim reads

Now we have the book and the movie to finish.

Is it time for lunch yet?


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Recipes and Veggies and other Tales

I’ve been thinking about the subject of cooking these days. I’ve known average, good, and excellent chefs in my travels through life’s meals but have often wondered what is it that determines their status. Is it presentation? Variety? The ability to follow a recipe? Creativity?

Some illuminating (or at least amusing) quotes:

“The cook was a good cook, as cooks go; and as cooks go she went.”

“The qualities of an exceptional cook are akin to those of a successful tightrope walker: an abiding passion for the task, courage to go out on a limb and an impeccable sense of balance.”
Bryan Miller

“A good cook puts something of himself into the preparation — he cooks with enjoyment, anticipation, spontaneity, and he is willing to experiment.”
Pearl Bailey, Pearl’s Kitchen (1973)

“HAM AND EGGS – A day’s work for a chicken; A lifetime commitment for a pig.”

“A clever cook, can make….good meat of a whetstone.”

“Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four; unless there are three other people.”
Orson Welles

Recently I’ve been enjoying two new cookbooks and sensing, in them, the possibility of becoming a better cook. Also I have been blessed by some creative chefs in my acquaintance. One of whom came to my home and prepared this amazing salad (Thanks Jennifer!!) that introduced me to several new wonderful green vegetables.

rainbow chard?

Name this vegetable!

Jen's salad

Jen’s delicious salad.

After enjoying the leftovers of this salad for several days, I went to the grocery store today and bought large bags of fresh fruits and vegetables. The kids were thrilled to have the fruit bowl stocked again and snacked on strawberries all day.


For dinner tonight I put these greens together to make a yummy salad. I’m afraid it was a bit stretching for my (“I would be fine with iceburg lettuce”) family but at least two of them ate a big plate full. Jen introduced me to bok choy and I am already a HUGE fan. It’s sweet and crispy and perfect in salads. I haven’t tried it cooked but I read at this organic greens site that it is also good in stir-frys.

I have been so bored and frustrated with vegetables lately. I eat a fairly healthy diet that includes a hearty serving of vegetables at both lunch and dinner. After almost two years of following this food plan, I’m a little tired of the vegetables I’ve been preparing. How lovely to discover some new things to add to my repertoire. Several of the greens are ones I’ve avoided, fearing they would be bitter in a salad. Instead, I was thrilled to discover swiss chard and kale have subtle, pleasant flavors; perfect for a green salad.

I’ve already mentioned this cookbook but I want to bring it up again in order to share a recipe or two. Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson


I’ve made the cornbread muffins twice and they have been a huge hit each time. They are easy to prepare and cook beautifully.

Moist Savory Corn Muffins
1 can (14.75) creamed corn
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
8 tbs butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Set 12 cup muffin tin in over to heat while you make batter.

Put creamed corn in microwaveable dish and heat until comes to a full boil. Stir in 1 cup of cornmeal to make a thick, pasty mush (if not stiff, microwave another 30 seconds). Whisk in buttermilk, eggs and butter.

Mix remaining 1 cup cornmeal with flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Pour wet ingredients into dry ones and stir until just combined.

Remove muffin tin, spray with cooking spray. Fill tins. Bake 15 minutes (until golden brown). Serve.

This evening I made the Yorkshire Pudding/Popovers recipe from the same book.

1 1/2 cups instant (quick mixing) flour, such as Wondra
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
4 large eggs
2 tbs butter, melted

Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Mix milk, eggs, and butter in small bowl. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture; stir until smooth. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray. Fill 3/4 full.

Set oven to 425. Bake for 35 minutes (starting with cold oven and w/o opening oven door).

These puffed up so beautifully I had to call the children in to come and see the yummy sight.

kids looking

kids smiling

The pictures I took of the popovers while they were baking in the oven didn’t come out and I was too busy putting the rest of dinner together to capture the finished product on film. Unfortunately I thought they looked like they were browning too fast in the oven so I took them out before the 35 minutes were up – they rose beautifully and then fell just as beautifully. Thankfully they were absolutely delicious and no one seemed to mind their fallen state at all. I will try these again soon.

The other cookbook that is the focus of my attention these days is Sunday Suppers: Informal American Home Cooking by Melanie Barnard (who seems to have also written several cookbooks for William Sonoma). My aunt (one of those excellent chefs that I noted earlier) gave me this book for Christmas. I believe when someone whom you admire gives you a present regarding their talents and gifts you should give it some careful consideration. I spent a good portion of the day reading/devouring the recipes in this cookbook (at stop lights, while waiting for the children at the Y, when I should have been making dinner). This book, in particular, carries the unique distinction of personal, hand-written notations from my aunt in the margins of her favorite recipes. What a precious addition to an already yummy book.

I am eager to get into the kitchen and start mixing and stirring. I hardly ever cook with lamb or pork and there are several delicious looking recipes featured in these two in the cookbook. My family is in for a real treat.


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